Penryn, Cornwall

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Cornish: Pennrynn
St. Gluvias Street, Penryn
Penryn is located in Cornwall
 Penryn shown within Cornwall
Population 7,166 (Census 2001)[1]
OS grid reference SW782345
Civil parish Penryn
Unitary authority Cornwall Council
Ceremonial county Cornwall
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PENRYN
Postcode district TR10
Dialling code 01326
Police Devon and Cornwall
Fire Cornwall
Ambulance South Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Truro and Falmouth
List of places

Coordinates: 50°10′08″N 5°06′25″W / 50.169°N 5.107°W / 50.169; -5.107

Penryn (/ˈpɛnrɪn/ Cornish: Pennrynn, meaning 'promontory') is a civil parish and town in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is situated on the Penryn River about 1 mile (1.6 km) northwest of Falmouth.[2] The population was 7,166 in the 2001 census.

Although latterly overshadowed by nearby Falmouth, Penryn was once an important harbour in its own right throughout the medieval period exporting granite and tin.


Early history[edit]

Prayer Book Rebellion Memorial, near the site of Glasney College

Penryn is one of Cornwall's most ancient towns with a wealth of history. These lands appear in Domesday Book under the name of "Trelivel". Penryn was founded in 1216 by the Bishop of Exeter. The borough was enfranchised and its Charter of Incorporation was made in 1236. The contents of this Charter were embodied in a confirmation by Bishop Walter Bronescombe in the year 1259.[3] In 1265, a religious college, called Glasney College, was built in Penryn for the Bishop of Exeter to develop the church's influence in the far west of the diocese. In 1374, the chapel of St Thomas (sometimes called St Mary's) was opened. Standing at the head of the Penryn River, Penryn occupies a sheltered position and was a port of some significance in the 15th century. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII and the disestablishing of the Roman Catholic church, Glasney was dissolved and demolished in 1548 during the brief reign of Edward VI, the first Protestant Duke of Cornwall, afterwards King of England. The dissolution of Glasney College helped trigger the Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549. The loss of Glasney and the defeat of the 1549 rebellion proved to be a turning point in the history of the town from which Penryn has never recovered.

Later history[edit]

By the mid 17th century the port was thriving with the trade in Cornish fish, tin and copper. However, Penryn lost its custom house and market rights to the new town of Falmouth as a direct result of supporting the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War (1642–48). The Killigrews of Arwenack were more skilful turncoats, and as their new town grew so the older port of Penryn declined from the 17th century right up to today.

Jubilee Wharf

From 1554, Penryn held a parliamentary constituency, which became Penryn and Falmouth in 1832. The constituency was abolished in 1950, with Penryn becoming part of the Falmouth and Camborne constituency. It received a royal charter as a borough in 1621, mainly in a bid by the crown to cure the town of piracy. At least three mayors of Penryn were convicted of piracy between 1550 and 1650. The arms of the borough of Penryn were Sa. a Saracen's head Or in a bordure of eight bezants.[4] The merchant traveller and writer Peter Mundy (c1600-1667) was son of a Penryn pilchard trader and travelled extensively throughout his life in Asia (where he was one of the first Europeans to taste Chaa), Russia and Europe before returning to Penryn to write his Itinerarium Mundi ('World Itinerary'); one of the earliest travel guides in English.[5]

In the early 19th century, granite works were established by the river and large quantities of the stone were shipped from its quays for construction projects both within the UK and abroad.

The A39 road, which begins in Bath and is about 200 miles (320 km) long, once passed through Penryn towards the end of its route in nearby Falmouth, but in 1994 was diverted around the town when the Penryn Bypass was opened, incorporating a stretch of new road along with upgrading to an existing road.

The town is the setting of the play The Penryn Tragedy, which tells of a young man unwittingly murdered by his parents after disguising himself as a rich stranger.[6]

Present day Penryn[edit]

Market Street, looking south
Railway viaduct

Today, Penryn is a quiet town and has retained a large amount of its heritage. With a large proportion of its buildings dating back to Tudor, Jacobean and Georgian times, the town has been designated as an important conservation area. The local museum is housed in the Town Hall. Penryn has a small but active Rotary Club.

Penryn is twinned with Audierne in Brittany, France.[citation needed]


Penryn railway station was opened by the Cornwall Railway on 24 August 1863. It is towards the north west end of the town and is served by regular trains from Truro to Falmouth on the Maritime Line.


Higher education[edit]

See also: Tremough

In 2004, the Tremough Campus was completed, creating the hub of the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project. It provides a new home for the Institute of Cornish Studies and the University of Exeter's world-renowned Camborne School of Mines, which has moved from Camborne, where it has been for over a century. The Campus also houses departments of Falmouth University, which is based in the centre of Falmouth. In 2007, phase two was completed, which includes increased student accommodation and new teaching areas.


There are currently three schools in Penryn:

Sport and leisure[edit]

Penryn Athletic F.C. is a Non-League football club who play at the 1,500 capacity Kernick Road ground. The club is a member of the South West Peninsula League Division One West and are nicknamed "The Borough".

More famously on a national level though, is the rugby team of the town also known as "The Borough". In the senates the club played against such teams as Coventry, London Welsh and Rosslyn Park.


The policing of the area is the responsibility of Devon and Cornwall Police who have a dedicated team to cover the area; The Penryn & Mylor local Policing Team.[8]

Notable residents[edit]

Penryn was the home of Thomas Pellow (born circa 1704) who spent 23 years as a white slave in Morocco. Pellow's story is told in his autobiography, The History of the Long Captivity and Adventures of Thomas Pellow (1740) and in Giles Milton's 2007 book White Gold: the extraordinary story of Thomas Pellow and Islam's one million white slaves.



  • Roddis, Roland, Penryn, The History of an Ancient Cornish Borough, 1964
  • Warmington, Ernie, Penryn: People, Places, Postcards, Photographs, 1998, Published by the author, reprinted 2007
  • Warmington, Ernie, Around Penryn (Images of England series), Stroud: Tempus Publishing, 2000, ISBN 0-7524-2098-4
  • Warmington, Ernie, Penryn Revisited, Stroud: Tempus Publishing, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7524-4607-3
  • Warmington, Ernie, Penryn Through Time, Amberley Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84868-543-7

External links[edit]